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IC filmmakers bring Hollywood to town to make The Formula

BY ALY BROWN | JULY 19, 2012 6:30 AM

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Hollywood and Iowa celebrities act side-by-side in the "bromantic comedy" The Formula, a movie from independent film company Backrow Studios currently filming in Iowa City.

The Formula is a story of two engineers who, after failing in their own love pursuits, stumble upon a formula for picking up women. It was created by University of Iowa alumni Ravi Patel, Tim Nash, and Joe Clarke.

Clarke, co-director and writer, said his crew is working to create a film community in Iowa.

"We have a film circle here in Iowa City, and we are trying to build a film industry in Iowa," he said. "We have been shooting in places that are recognizable, so people can watch the film and say 'Oh, I've been there.' "

Patel, the producer, said he thinks viewers will relate to the movie's plot.

"I think anyone can at least partially relate to The Formula," he said. "We've all had life experiences with women or otherwise in which you have to fight tooth and nail for your desired outcome. Life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey, and regardless of the outcome, you walk away having learned and evolved during the journey."

Clarke said the cast and crew want the audience to learn from the movie.

"We aren't just going for empty laughs," he said. "We want to give the audience a little bit more to munch on, something to take away from the movie."

Brandon Baker, known for his starring role in the Disney classic Johnny Tsunami, stars as engineering student Quinn. He said he can relate to his character's quandary with wooing women.

"I've been there in my early 20s, and I know how it feels to be in love or want to be," he told The Daily Iowan. "It's been nice to kind of remember and re-experience that."

Baker said he has enjoyed the creativity the independent budget has allowed him, even if it is at times uncertain.

"Most of the time, I play the everyman, the best friend, or the straight character type and let the other actors get crazy," he said. "But on this film, it's an easy-going set with a lot of ideas. It's more creative, I can improvise more."

Baker said he has been inspired to improvise by Mike Schminke and Tyler Thirnbeck, two students of world-renowned comedy club and improvisation school Second City also starring in The Formula.

"With a lot of other characters, you have time to rehearse and audition with the other actors," he said. "But each day here, I found my character more and more. Me and Mike Schminke have become really close, which is obviously important since we are best friends in the film."

Schminke stars as Graham, Quinn's best friend, fellow formula-developer, and a womanizer.

He said filming in Iowa is fun because people are excited to see movies being made, and business owners are happy to lend their space for a shot.

"I lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years, and people aren't that excited to see filming there because it happens all the time," he said. "It has been great filming here because people are excited and there is a real sense of unity."

The Formula is the third movie produced by Backrow Studios following The Wedge which has claimed three awards including Best Professional Feature at the Cedar Rapids Independent Film Makers Festival in April.

Patel said he aims to improve and expand with each picture, using his experience in the hotel development industry to aim big.

"Every time you do something, you want the current version to be bigger, better, and more powerful than the last," he said. "The Formula has a higher budget, higher quality talent, and overall product."


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